Apple rejects iOS app because it uses iCloud

Justin Esgar built iCloud syncing into SignMyPad so users could access the documents on their iPhone as well.

Nonetheless we were denied for our use of iCloud. Apple’s reasoning was that they will not allow iOS applications to use iCloud to sync “non-user-generated” data between devices. After some lengthy followup, we learned that while using a “drawing application” to create a new piece of art and then saving that file would be considered “user-generated”, using our app to add a signature and content to a PDF and saving it as a new file is not “user-generated”. The exception, of course, being for Apple’s own iOS applications, like those in iWorks. So after a long phone call with Apple that equated to my logical arguments being repeatedly contested with the same sentence from an apparent script (“your app does not follow our guidelines regarding user-generated documents in iCloud”), what was their recommendation for how to get over this hurdle? Use a 3rd party iCloud competitor. Wow.

I don’t get it.

  • KvH

    Doesn’t PDF Pen on the iPad/Mac let you use iCloud for your signature document and to apply that to PDF docs? There’s gotta be something else here as well.

    • Autriv Inc

      KvH – there are a few apps that allow you to do what we want to do. Hence the confusion on the guideline.

      • arun 

        are you actually modifying the PDF?

        • Autriv Inc

          Yes we are. The application allows you to add elements such as signature, text, etc. The new version will allow you to delete pages, rotate, and fill in Acrobat forms. Full modification.

  • Ron Miller

    I had a similar funny issue with Apple. I created an App that is a study aid (kind of like a flash card app). When creating your study data, you can download pictures from the internet. I know from experience that it can sometimes be very difficult to find the “right” picture for your purpose, so I tried to save the photo in an area that would get backed up by iTunes (or to iCloud if iCloud backups are turned on).

    Apple insisted that I just store the link to the photo, and re-download it if the “temporary” space for my app every gets wiped out (such as during a restore).

    I mentioned to them that it is no different than saving a picture from Safari into your Photos (which Apple certainly doesn’t keep around links for … they store the actual photo).

    Apple wouldn’t listen to any of my arguments.

    Their final response was “I completely agree with you that it is not reasonable for your app to lose these photos. Since we won’t allow you to store them on the iPhone in a secure way, I would suggest using Dropbox to store them”.

    That is what i did. Thank you Dropbox for being developer friendly!

    • I went through a similar process last year, for a database the user generates with a companion app. It takes a long time and lots of data to generate the database, and given Wi-Fi speed it’s hard to download. But I had to stop letting iCloud back it up.

      I think it makes our app experience noticeably worse, especially when trying to transfer the data to a new phone. But oh well. It’s on Apple.

  • BC2009

    This is insane. Apple needs to slap their reviewers around.

  • Fail whale.

  • gjgustav

    I see the confusion. I’m thinking the Apple reviewer is thinking something along the lines of “When an app is storing PDFs or others files from another source, the dev is essentially using iCloud for his own ‘Dropbox’ type app. He is ignoring the added value of the signature.”

    Not that I agree with that, but I do know one thing; the developer should have asked for an appeal, rather than complaining in public. An appeal will get other reviewers at Apple to look at it. Simple follow-up with the same reviewer would not.

    • Autriv Inc

      We have asked for an appeal. We’ve also attempted a few different ways. We also didn’t post this as a complaint to the public. This is just the truth for why the app is being delayed.


      • Stick in there guys. Glad to see you respond here.

        • Autriv Inc

          Thanks for the support John.

          • mdelvecchio

            you may wonder why JCB Jr. (proper name is Jr, not The Second) is downvoted, but please understand he’s an intellectually dishonest troll on this site. sorry.

          • You’re hilarious mdelvecchio. Differing opinions get you deemed intellectually dishonest and a troll? You’re a complete joke!

            And it is the 2nd, not Jr, for a reason.

  • fenderlover

    Simple. How much storage will Apple have to provide (at no cost) if every developer decides to tie into iCloud? Photo apps, movie apps, all sorts of massive documents would eventually interfere with what iCloud was intended for, and Apple is responsible for it all. That’s what comes to my mind, anyway. They’re essentially saying “let someone else provide you with free storage and services, we built ours for our apps”. Eh?

    • Great point. Seeing as they keep 30% and charge users for iCloud [for more space] I think they could afford it.

      • fenderlover

        Ah. I haven’t messed with iCloud much, other than whatever it’s part of by default. I guess I didn’t take users buying more storage into account. But I’m sure Apple doesn’t want to dilute the value of their 30% take by giving devs iCloud space for nothing. I only take guesses at this stuff. I don’t know much other than what I observe and color with my perception. :¬)

    • Autriv Inc

      Fender – we weren’t using any space actually. The data would just sync between the devices, using your computer as the transfer device. On every Mac OS X computer there is a folder called Mobile Documents that syncs with your iCloud account. Using that, we’d only be limited to your HD size – not your iCloud account size.

      Thanks for the comments 🙂

      • fenderlover

        Word up. I’m not very knowledgable with this stuff, but it just seems if they let one do it, then it opens the floodgates, and who knows what others will want. I can just see how Apple would want to limit access to their servers. Appreciate the followup!

      • Timmy

        I don’t understand, everything in that folder is also in the cloud; that’s what icloud is. So if you use that folder to store documents, you use iCloud space.

      • The whole app is never backed up to iCloud. Think about it: The app is exactly the same as when it was downloaded. There’s no reason for it to be uploaded or your copy of it stored in the cloud when it can simply be restored from the store.

  • Autriv Inc

    Thanks to everyone at the Loop for bringing out post to light. We are hoping for a resolution soon.

  • arun 

    As far i understand,

    Scenario 1: he is downloading the PDF content from somewhere, then overlaying the signature on top of the PDF.

    1. The PDF is not user generate only the markup of signature is user generated.

    Scenario 2:

    The PDF is downloaded, but the Signature is marked up and put into as a part PDF. Here the PDF is modified, so now, it becomes user generated.

    If Apple rejected, then its most likely Scenario 1. There is no way Apple can reject Scenario 2. Because there is no way for that modified PDF can be downloaded again.

    • Autriv Inc

      That was the basis of the conversation between our CEO and the Apple representative. They claim both of your examples as not user-generated.

  • franksspam

    Stuff like this will prevent anyone from using iCloud for anything other than simple key-value storage.